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Laying Hens

Updated on April 18, 2013

What is a hen?

A "hen" is a female chicken, while a "rooster" is a male. The difference between the two is that a hen lays eggs, and roosters fertilize the eggs. Why hen's are more popular is because they lay eggs, which we humans use to eat, and cook with. Most hens from the big companies are kept in cages, where they lay eggs every day and are not let outside. I will teach you the other way of raising hens, which I find makes them more happy, and you can even treat them like pets!

Why would I get hens?

You could get hens for many logical reasons.

  1. They are easy to raise and keep, and they live for a long time (depends on the breed on exactly how long).
  2. In the long run you'll save money. Hens, as long as they're happy and young, will lay an egg around 75% of the days you have them. If you have 10 chickens, that's around 7-8 eggs a day, and you won't have to drive to the store to get them.
  3. They are very fun to watch and you can eventually let them outside (when they get their wings fully developed).
  4. You can use them to make new chickens with them and a rooster.
  5. They can eat table scraps - fruit and vegetables only. Don't forget to make it so they can eat it, like peel a banana before giving it to them.

Getting the hens

So, you are getting the hens and it is the first day. As long as you follow whatever instructions your local store gave you, you should be ok. But here are some pointers for the first week.

  • Keep them warm. Ask your local store what temperature they should be kept at. The breed makes a difference.
  • After taking them out of the crate, you need to dip their beaks in water, so they know how to drink. Otherwise they will die of dehydration, because they will never learn to drink.
  • Feed them what your local store says. They will recommend the correct food, just ask them what they need.
  • Keep their water clean and check on them every couple hours. 
  • Don't leave windows open or space - the wind can kill them.
  • If you lose one, it's not your fault. Some are born with diseases and you cannot control it.

After the first week or so they will stop looking so small, so you'll need to feed and water them a little more.

Chicken Roost


Building a roost.

Your hens will love a roost as soon as they get bigger. A roost is basically a little platform you can build to let them climb around on it like a ladder, but smaller and easier to climb. Picture of one >

You just build it with lumber, then lean it up against one of your chicken coop's walls. It is fairly simple to build and your hens will love it. Don't be surprised if you don't see them on it at first, but once they get used to it, they will be on it all the time.

When they start laying eggs

When your hens start laying eggs it is time to start making nests for them. These are very simple and affordable. Simply take a bin less than 1 foot high and at least 2 feet wide (or as much room as your chicken will need, make sure you give it extra room). Then just fill it about halfway full with bedding ( the little wood shavings you had to put on the floor of the coop). Another way is to take a 5-gallon bucket, and just hang it on the wall. This is only to be used when they can fly, otherwise they won't be able to get up there.  Also fill it around halfway full with bedding.When your chickens first start laying eggs, don't expect too much of them, and if one isn't laying when all the others are, just give it patience, some are fast and some are slow.

When the wings are fully developed.

Now you can let them outside. They might not want to come out for the first couple days but after they learn how nice it is outside they will not be able to resist. Don't forget to put them back in their coop at night time, otherwise an animal might find them, whether it be a bear, or the neighborhood dog. I would recommend a fence if your coop is close to the road, so they don't get into the road. A simple fence will work just fine, it shouldn't cost you more than $50. Just stapling old fabric to poles will even work. Since they can't really fly high.

Problems you may find

If one of your chickens is having a problem, such as bleeding from egg laying, don't let it stay near the other chickens. They will soon develop a taste for blood, they will start pecking at each others blood. To prevent this from happening you can simply keep them in the coop for a while and buy a red light, which will not let them recognize the color. You can also just keep that chicken separated from the others until it gets better. The 3rd option is to paint where it is bleeding so they can't tell it is blood. I would suggest methods 2 and 1 thought.

Another issue you might develop is not seeing as many eggs. Most likely the cause is that some chickens decided they'd rather lay their eggs somewhere else and hide them from you. You will need to go on a scavenger hunt to try to find them, otherwise they might crack open from something and the chickens could eat the egg, and that wouldn't be good.

The last thing, that's not really a problem, is Winter. When it starts to get cold, keep your chickens inside unless they are bred for going outside in the Winter. Just look up your breed and see if they are meant to be outside in the cold, if not, they will need to stay inside all Winter, with a heat lamp on so they stay warm. You will still need to take their eggs and bring them food and water as usual. Just don't let them outside or they will freeze.

Let me know what you think!

I am always very happy to see comments and likes, and everything. Just let me know what you think. What I could improve on, etc. I hope some day you will like Hens as much as I do!

Thanks for reading!


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      grandma kathy 6 years ago

      Wonderful info! Nicely written.